CC Sabathia is the game’s highest-paid hurler, but David Price has pretty obviously supplanted him as the AL East’s best pitcher. Tampa Bay’s ace picked up his league-leading 18th win Friday as the Rays topped the Yankees 6-4.
Price allowed two runs in seven innings to become the AL’s first to 18 victories. Sabathia gave up four runs in 6 2/3 innings to drop to 13-6. The Yankees have lost each of his last four starts.
The Yankees did make a late charge in the eighth, when Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run homer off Joel Peralta to make it a 5-4 game. The typically reliable Peralta then exited with a man on first and one out, with Rays manager Joe Maddon asking Fernando Rodney to get five outs. That’s exactly what happened, as Rodney allowed just one batter to reach via a walk. The Rays got an insurance run on an Eduardo Nunez error in the top of the ninth.
Rodney’s save was his 43rd of the season. He has an insane 0.66 ERA through 68 innings.
Sabathia won his first start after returning from a brief DL stint last month, but he’s 0-3 with a 4.67 ERA in four starts since. Tonight’s outing was the first in the last five in which he didn’t give up a homer. He’s allowed a career-high 21 homers in 176 innings for the season after allowing 17 homers in 237 1/3 innings last year.
The win leaves the Rays three behind the Yankees in the AL East. They’ll also pick up a game on either Baltimore or Oakland tonight, since those two are playing each other.
The Yankees defeated the Astros 4-1 during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night, staving off a potential postseason elimination and forcing the series to at least six games.
In just the third playoff appearance of his career, Yankees southpaw James Paxton turned in another impressive performance, limiting the Astros to four hits and four walks over six innings of one-run ball. According to MLB Stats, his nine strikeouts made him the second Yankees lefty to record multiple starts of 8+ strikeouts in the same postseason campaign, two decades after David Wells did so for the 1998 championship-winning club.
Paxton’s strong outing was backed by a handful of runs from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, both of whom went deep against Astros ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first inning. LeMahieu’s leadoff solo shot marked his first postseason home run since Game 1 of the ALDS, while Hicks’ three-run 347-footer was his first home run of any variety since July 24 (and his first in the playoffs since the 2017 ALDS).
Neither team managed a single run after the first inning, leaving the two pitching staffs to duke it out for eight quick innings. Verlander outlasted Paxton — taking the game through the seventh with five hits, four runs, and nine strikeouts — but even with a flawless contribution from Brad Peacock in the eighth, there was little the hurlers could do to help the Astros solve Paxton and an airtight Yankees bullpen.
With the win, the Yankees will try to push the series to a full seven games in order to snatch the AL pennant from the Astros. They’ll have to do in Houston, however, as the Astros will regain home field advantage when Game 6 kicks off on Saturday at 8:08 PM EDT. Neither starter has been announced yet; per Houston skipper A.J. Hinch, it will likely be a bullpen day.